Reports & Resources

Much has been written about the plight of rural communities and the failed policies that have led to so much hardship. Some of the most relevant research and policy-related reports on these topics include:

The Food System: Concentration and Its Impacts

Family Farm Action Alliance

This report provides the latest updated data on the state of corporate power in agriculture and food systems, as well as documenting proposals to decentralize and democratize concentrated wealth and power.

The Path to Rural Resilience in America

Center for American Progress

This report highlights a new framework for rural economic development.

Reimagining Rural Policy: Organizing Federal Assistance to Maximize Rural Prosperity


This report highlights a new approach to rural economic development, infrastructure and public health policy.

Rural Development Hubs: Strengthening America’s Rural Innovation Infrastructure

Aspen Community Strategies Group

This report highlights what’s working and who to work with for high-impact rural development policies and funding.

Progressive Governance Can Turn the Tide for Black Farmers

Center for American Progress

This report describes the systemic food system discrimination that led to massive Black land loss and outlines policy recommendations for corrective action.

Relief, Recovery, and Reimagination: A Federal Policy Agenda to Meet This Moment in Rural and Small-Town America

People’s Action

This policy document describes community-based organizations’ efforts to listen to, and respond to, rural voters’ identified policy demands.

Rural America at a Glance


Characteristics and differences affecting the resiliency and recovery of rural communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rural America: Philanthropy’s Misunderstood Opportunity for Impact


Often overlooked by national funders, rural America faces profound inequities, but also provides an untapped source of innovation.

Mapping Rural America’s Diversity and Demographic Change


Three demographic trends from the 2020 Census that upend outdated assumptions about nonmetropolitan America and conclude with a call to embrace a more inclusive future for increasingly diverse and dynamic rural towns and regions.

Consumer Finances in Rural Appalachia

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The September 2022 report finds rural Appalachians earn less than other rural people across the country and significantly less than non-rural consumers. Rural Appalachians are more likely to have a subprime or deep subprime credit score compared to all consumers nationally and consumers in the rest of rural America, which typically leads to a higher cost of credit. Rural Appalachians are also more likely than consumers in other parts of the country to have medical debt collections on their credit record.

Doing It Right

Northern Plains Resource Council

This report provides a technical analysis of potential job creation during coal ash cleanup at the Colstrip power plant in southeastern Montana. It shows that a thorough “high and dry” cleanup approach (or “Doing It Right”) will create hundreds more local jobs than the industry’s preferred “cap-in-place” approach at Colstrip.

Is Rural America Really Doing So Badly?

Headwaters Economics

The 2022 report looks at how rural America has changed. Many of the rural counties that  had the biggest population gains were close to a city, had diversified, non-specialized economies, and often had a university. Counites with recreation-dependent and/or retirement destinations also grew. Counties that lost population tended to depend on farming, mining, or oil and gas.

Black Storytelling & Policymaking in Appalachia

Black Appalachian Coalition and the Ohio River Valley Institute

Across policy issues there is a common need for Black storytelling and participation as a precondition for policymaking. This 2022 report shows why policymakers should value creating spaces for groups that have been historically oppressed or ignored to share their stories, and on helping shift narratives to accurately reflect the region’s past and present.

Housing Damage from the 2022 Kentucky Flood

Ohio River Valley Institute and Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center

The 2023 report provides damage assessment and policy recommendations based on a recovery efforts from a recent flood. It estimates the number of damaged homes, cost to rebuild from a recent flood, demographic backgrounds of households with damaged homes, and the housing aid received.

Leveling the Fields

Union of Concerned Scientists and HEAL Food Alliance

This 2020 report recommends solutions be developed by and with Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color.

Strengthening Rural Community Colleges

Association of Community College Trustees

Rural communities face common challenges. Chief among these are inadequate broadband connectivity, lacking public transportation, and limited access to affordable high-quality childcare. Rural community colleges also struggle to fill faculty and staff positions, and many rural college leaders find that their concerns are not always reflected in national discourse on postsecondary issues. While the current public health crisis has increased attention to many of the issues in rural areas, it has also increased the severity of those challenges. But small and struggling needn’t be the only narrative.